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  • Diana Schneidman

Freelancing and consulting: Three things to know about clients

If we immerse ourselves in online learning, we have learned the same lessons repeatedly about what our clients want.

However, here are three things we may never have heard before.

First, people do business with people they like. However, people also do business with people they hate if necessary.

Business is not a popularity contest. We want suppliers who can deliver the goods. Certainly if there are many competitors among the service providers we are considering, how we feel about them can be a factor.

However, that’s a small part of the story. There are other considerations including how specifically they meet our requirements, including availability, cost, and reliability.

We have all worked with people we don’t like. That’s certainly true in past cubicles, but it’s true in the self-employment realm as well.

We need the work done well and by deadline. Meeting standards and meeting deadlines are far more relevant than likeability.

Second, people don’t have to know you and like you if they trust you. When we hear preaching on the holy trinity of Know, Like, and Trust, it sounds as if all three are equally important.

Not true.

We can trust people we hardly know.

Since we hardly know them, we can’t really like them all that much. Which leaves trust.

The first way we test our trust is by learning more about them, perhaps through a one-on-one meeting or phone conversation, but also through their website, LinkedIn profile, YouTube presence, and such.

Truthfully, I’m more likely to be turned on by someone who is new to me than someone I have been following for quite awhile without taking action.

If new service providers’ messages and positioning really grab me, I feel like a desert traveler who has wandered into the oasis. If I have not purchased from someone whom I have been familiar with for awhile, it’s probably because their message has not resonated strongly enough with me. Unless something turns my thoughts around—or a new product or service makes their message available to me in a more attractive package—more of the same will not do the job.

Trust can be established through a personal relationship, but there are other ways to grow it as well. A website or other communications that precisely scratch my itch foster trust. Trust can even be developed through something as obvious as a written guarantee.

Third, hyper responsive buyers have huge B.S. detectors. This lesson is from Dr. Glenn Livingston, psychologist and marketing expert.

He calculates the hyper responsive as the best 5% of customers.

What this means is that sales propositions and offers that sound “juicy,” “sexy,” or otherwise fantastic to the casual audience may not be as effective with our best prospects.

That can be the problem with Unique Selling Propositions (USPs) and such. They sound exciting to those who are unlikely to buy so they elicit interest and enthusiasm . . . but this interest and enthusiasm come from people who are unlikely to buy. USPs get strong validation from marketing coaches and even our families, but if our best prospects dismiss them as B.S., they won’t work for us.

I have experienced this very problem when phoning prospects for freelance writing assignments in the marketing communications departments of insurance companies.

I have experimented with chipper claims rich in passion and creativity, but the managers most likely to buy my services have not responded with the curiosity and enthusiasm a USP supposedly generates.

Instead, they are likely to ask what I do, looking for factual answers, such as the types of materials I write.

What about you? Do these three principles apply to your practice? Or have you had a difference experience?

By the way, observation number one comes from Patrick Helmers of SalesBabble, and observation number three comes from Dr. Glenn Livingston.

Originally posted 6-9-15

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